Anita Theodosia Moira Rodzianko King

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Anita Rodzianko King (born Anita Theodosia Moira Leslie; 21 November 1914 – 5 November 1985) was an Irish-born biographer and writer.[1] She was a first cousin once removed of the British wartime Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill.

Childhood and education[edit]

The eldest of three children born in New York City, to a wealthy Anglo-Irish landowning family (49,968 acres). Anita Theodosia Moira Leslie, alongside her brothers (Sir John Leslie, 4th Baronet and Desmond Leslie) were born to Sir John Randolph Leslie, 3rd Baronet (a.k.a. Shane Leslie) and his wife, Majorie Ide, the Vermont-born daughter of General Henry Clay Ide the US ambassador to Spain.[2]

Anita's schooling was abysmal. She spent her childhood partly on a feudal estate in a country torn by conflict, partly in a London town-house where everyone in the 1920s seemed obsessed by cocktails, short skits, bobbed hair and Eton crops, and partly in strange schools and convents in various parts of Europe.[citation needed] But she always felt at home at Castle Leslie and her 1981 autobiography, The Gilt and the gingerbread, details her early childhood and eventual decision to leave the home of her grandparents and play her part in the Second World War.[citation needed]

World War II[edit]

During the war she joined the Mechanised Transport Corps, as a fully trained mechanic and ambulance driver. Anita was stationed in Cairo, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan during the intervening years. In 1944 she drove ambulances with the free-French army though northern France and liberated a V2 Rocket Factory in Germany. She wrote letters home from Hitler's office in the Reich Chancellery and took part in the Victory parade in Berlin.

Anita met future husband Bill King in Lebanon in 1943, where King served for 5 months as executive officer of the submarine base at Beirut.[3] She was on a skiing trip after doing duty in Africa in the Motor Transport Corps in 1940–42, although a letter mentions her being in Beirut in 1941–42.[4] Leslie-King then became an ambulance driver in the French Army from 1944 to 1945. For the latter, she was awarded the Croix de Guerre in 1945 by General Charles de Gaulle.[5]

Post-war life and marriage[edit]

On 1 January 1949, Leslie married King. After the war, Anita took up farming and was an avid fox hunter, as was her husband Bill. In 1946, the Kings bought Oranmore Castle, a 15th-century Norman keep built on Galway Bay in county Galway, Ireland for ₤200-.[6] Other sources report that Anita Leslie-King was given the castle by her mother, who had bought it in 1946.[7] For a while, the Kings lived in a hunting lodge outside Oranmore village, designed by Bill, and built while he and Anita went on a "world sailing cruise."[8] To help combat his wife's asthma, King developed an organic farm and garden to feed his family. Both Anita Leslie's mother and grandmother had suffered asthma.[9]


She married, firstly, Paul Rodzianko (a nephew of Mikhail Rodzianko) and secondly, Commander Bill King in 1947 who during World War II served as a submarine commander and later a transatlantic and circumnaviator yachtsman. The Kings had two children:

  • Richard Tarka Bourke King (born 1949) has two children, William and Olivia.
  • Leonie Rose King, Mrs Finn (born 1951) married celebrated Irish folk musician Alec Finn and still resides in Oranmore, County Galway, with her father, Bill King. She and Finn have two children.

Published works[edit]

  • 1937: 'Rodin, immortal peasant'. (Prentice-Hall, inc)
  • 1940: 'Mannerheim: an intimate picture of a great soldier and statesman'. Co-authored with her then husband Paul Rodzianko. (Jarrolds Limited)
  • 1948: 'Train to Nowhere'. (Hutchinson)
  • 1952: 'Love in a Nutshell'. (Hutchinson)
  • 1954: 'The Remarkable Mr Jerome'.
  • 1960: 'Mrs Fitzherbert'. The love affair of Mrs. Fitzherbert and the Prince of Wales, who later became George IV of England. (Scribner)
  • 1961: 'The Fabulous Leonard Jerome'. (Arrow Books)
  • 1966: 'Mr. Frewen of England: a Victorian adventurer'. (Hutchinson)
  • 1969: 'Lady Randolph Churchill; The story of Jennie Jerome'. (Scribner)
  • 1973: 'The Marlborough House set'. (Doubleday)
  • 1974: 'Edwardians in Love'.
  • 1975: 'Francis Chichester'. (Hutchinson: Hodder and Stoughton)
  • 1976: 'Cousin Clare: the tempestuous career of Clare Sheridan'. (Hutchinson)
  • 1978: 'Madame Tussaud, Waxworker Extraordinaire'. (Hutchinson: Hodder and Stoughton)
  • 1981: 'The Gilt and the Gingerbread'. (Hutchinson)
  • 1983: 'A Story Half Told: A Wartime Autobiography'. (Hutchinson)
  • 1985: 'Cousin Randolf: The Biography of Winston Churchill’s Son'. Profiles the son of Churchill who, with his many advantages—good looks, diverse abilities, and connections—had to make his mark in spite of his mother's diffidence and father's disinterest. (Hutchinson)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Leslie, Anita (1939). Mrs. Fitzherbert A Life. Chiefly from Unpublished Sources. Burns Oates. ASIN B0006D99I0. 
  2. ^ "Marjorie Ide Weds Under Canopy",; retrieved 7 January 2008.
  3. ^ "The strange journey to Oranmore Castle". Galway Advertiser. Archived from the original on 20 November 2007. Retrieved 31 August 2013. 
  4. ^ Georgetown University Libraries. "Special Collections: Sir Shane Leslie Papers." Box: 31 Fold: 1 Alec Waugh. Letter(s) dated 28 August 1949. Retrieved on 7 January 2008.
  5. ^ Mullins, Noel. "In Appreciation of Commander Bill King, 1910–2012". eCovertside. Retrieved 31 August 2013. 
  6. ^ "Wartime submarine commander and adventurer turns 100". Galway News. Retrieved 31 August 2013. 
  7. ^ Archived 12 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine. "A Royal Castle! Oranmore Castle, near Galway. Havens & Hideaways." Retrieved on 7 January 2008.
  8. ^ Finlan, Michael. 2006. "Galway Hunting Lodge is bang on." The Irish Times, 26 October. Retrieved on 8 January 2008.
  9. ^ Tsurukame, Akira on YouTube. Video of a visit with Commander Bill King at Oranmore. Retrieved on 15 February 2008.

External links[edit]

  • [1] Los Angeles Times Obituary.
  • [2] Library Thing Authors collected works.